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The Bitter and the Sweet

One of my favourite songs is a Naomi Shemer poem called “Al Kol Eleh.”  That link contains a fairly dreadful translation, but I do love the opening stanza: Over the honey and the sting / Over the bitter and the sweet / Over our daughter, our baby / My God, watch over what is good.”

It’s this reminder; that you can’t have the honey without the bee, and with the bee comes the sting.  You can’t have the intense love you feel for a child without realizing the fragility of life; that death is just as much a possibility as living.

I will start with the sweet.

It may have taken a long time, it may have been an accident, but the ChickieNob is now the proud owner of a clam-like animal, a bivalve called an abra alba. (You’ve never heard of an abra alba?  Neither had we.  Thank you, Google.)

We went to the beach to get over the insanity that was not only the derecho (another word we learned this week thanks to the Google-machine.  It’s the name of a land hurricane) and the subsequent power outage, but because we also had to attend a wedding in the middle of the power outage (and did I mention, there was also no water) AND I got my period on the 16th day of my cycle in the middle of said wedding and obviously had nothing with me because who the hell carries tampons with them on the 16th day of their cycle?  The whole day was something of a goat rodeo.

So after the wedding, we went to the beach with a set of friends who also hadn’t any power, and while I was standing by the water, I noticed the waves were bringing in these clam-like animals that would immediately burrow down into the sand.  I managed to catch one of them, and I held it out for the twins to examine.  “Look,” I foolishly said.  “It’s a baby clam.”

“I love him,” the ChickieNob announced despite the fact that she had just met him and her brain was surely a little addled from the lack of electricity.

“You can’t love him.  You don’t even know him.”

“I love him,” the ChickieNob said simply.  “Can I take him home and have him live in my room?  I’ll feed him… things.  And take care of him.  And make salt water so I can clean his bowl.”

And even though it clearly was a bad idea, I not only agreed to this but caught a second one for the Wolvog.  She named hers Milky White and he named his Seablue, and they lived in the hotel room inside sand-and-water filled water bottles.  And — G-d help me — they thrived.  They ate and burrowed and stuck out their siphons and seemed generally happy in the abra alba sense of the word.

And by fuck, those abra albas grew on me, and I came to love them too.  Especially when Seablue opened his little shell and poked his mucousy appendages out and we all cooed at how smart he must be to open his shell like that.

I will end with the bitter.

As many have heard, Nancy from ANewLifeofNancy (the name of her blog changed a few times over the years), died this week.  I don’t have any details; I only knew from other people’s comments on her Facebook page.

Every single person in this blogosphere adds their unique voice to create the whole, and even one missing voice leaves a void.  I’m remembering Nancy today as the roller derby queen.  As someone who never backed down, someone who brought honey with the sting, sweetness with the snark.

I’d like to leave you with an old post of Nancy’s; one of my all-time favourites.  If you knew her, you probably remember this one.  If you didn’t know her, you will realize why the blogosphere is different today without her here.


1 Mud Hut Mama { 07.06.12 at 12:26 pm }

I love your story of the abra albas. I can picture them but I never knew the name. Thanks for sharing that! Such sad news about Nancy. I didn’t know her but I love that post you shared. So very, very sad.

2 chhandita { 07.06.12 at 12:40 pm }

I wish i had commented on Nancy’s posts, but i was a lurker. I loved her spirit and jest for life. I wish i had told her how she touched a life in far away India. She was amazing. I still can’t believe it. I feel such a sense of loss.

3 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.06.12 at 12:41 pm }

I would love to see a photo of SeaBlue and Milky White. Maybe I’ll fall in love with their mucousy appendages, too?

I am deeply sad about the loss of Nancy. I’m surprised I’m so sad, considering I hadn’t had contact with her in awhile. But I just liked knowing I could.

There must be thousands of other people I feel that way about.

4 Devon { 07.06.12 at 1:04 pm }

Wow, I had been wondering what happened to Nancy just last week. I missed her posts. What sad news to find here today.

5 Pale { 07.06.12 at 1:12 pm }

I love the expression, Goat Rodeo.

And that opening stanza … I draw sharp breaths when I think of all the things I would never know, never see, never feel if I never stopped to listen to all the voices in this little corner of the blogosphere. Just one voice, but what a hole it rips in the whole. It’s beyond terrible and yet also affirming in a way. We all probably question, some of us more than others, whether our little light, our voice matters. Nancy put it all out there and it mattered. To a lot of us. It just did. Screw self doubt.

I love this, ““Look,” I foolishly said. “It’s a baby clam.”

“I love him,” the ChickieNob announced despite the fact that she had just met him …”

I reckon many of us feel the same way about each other’s stories. We take them home to live in our proverbial room, and we feed the stories and hopefully take a little bit of care of each other. And it is sweet.


6 a { 07.06.12 at 1:47 pm }

(Well, I haven’t ever really experienced this before, but I think it’s really very nice that the ALI blogosphere is also serving as a kind of wake for one of its members.)

So sad to hear about Nancy’s death. She was certainly a live wire, wasn’t she? Her brashness made you a bit suprised when she was also very eloquent.

Glad to hear that the twins have new pets – free pets are always the best kind! What’s the life span of an abra alba? I doubt I would fall in love with a mucousy appendage, but who knows?

7 Stupid Stork { 07.06.12 at 2:13 pm }

Oh my that’s sad.. I’m new so I didn’t know her blog, but that post she wrote is amazing..

Agreed! Gonna need a picture of those creatures.

8 Denver Laura { 07.06.12 at 3:31 pm }

Had to google it too, but where I grew up, we had “Coquina clam.” Plus ghost crabs, which if you get one with a massive pincher, could cause your finger to bleed. You story reminds me of when I begged my parents to buy a hermit crab in Florida. Herbie lived about 3 months. I was devastated. We even had a formal funeral to help me grieve.

16th day of your cycle? Like WTF?? Sometimes I hate having a non-functioning uterus. I wish I had a switch: on-off.

9 Io { 07.06.12 at 3:37 pm }

I am just so sad about Nancy. When I got back to blogging I looked at her blog and was sad she hadn’t blogged in a while. She was such a supportive badass.

10 m. { 07.06.12 at 4:01 pm }

I keep wishing I could could wish the news about Nancy away. She was, as another awesome blogger noted, one of my early road dogs. Not only did she make me snort with her posts, but she would often email out of the blue, just to see how I was, how life was treating me.

I don’t want her to be gone. But I am finding comfort in the knowing that she lived an awful lot of life while she was here.

I am heading beachward in a few short hours. And now I must search for some clever baby clams to take home and love.

11 jenn { 07.06.12 at 5:29 pm }

I am still in shock and a large part of me refuses to believe that this firecracker, snarky, fearless, brave & yet sweet & fragile lioness is gone. I only got a brief visit in person, yet Nancy was a very special part of my life. One that I wish I had to cherish just a little longer. We met on WebMD boards and she introduced me to the blogging community (and the whole concept of blogging) which became my outlet in our limited bout with IF. She was a truly understanding and compassionate friend to me despite distance, despite never actually shaking my hand or being able to offer a hug for comfort. I could call or text or email her with any question or vent and never had to worry about feeling judged. I knew I would get a no-hold’s barred answer- but that is what I loved about her. She was not perfect- but she would be the first to tell you so. She was also the first to comfort, the first to virtually ‘yell’ just POAS already & get it over with! She was the first person (besides my husband) that I told of our surprise pregnancy with #2. I was supposed to finally be able to host her this year so she could meet him.
I am in tears over the loss of this amazing woman in a community of amazing women. The world is a little dimmer now. My tattooed roller derby foul mouthed momma is gone.
I will cherish the time I could call her my friend and I will try to enjoy and really live my life without fear the way she could inspire me to. I will strive for honesty and truth in her honor. And I will one day ride some rollerskates and think of her.
My heart is with her family and especially the children that I know she loved more than anything.

12 tigger62077 { 07.06.12 at 8:42 pm }

I met Nancy oh-so-many years ago when we were both starting our journeys. We met on the TTC: JSO boards on WebMD. She was one of the first friends I made there. I know she’s been having a rough time for the past year or so, but I had my hopes. Her brother was just dx’d with a terminal illness about a week or two ago and…now this. I am devastated for her family.

I can’t find the post, but I remember Nancy telling a story about her daughter and cremation. Her daughter told Nancy’s mom that they were going to light Nancy on fire and spread her ass all over. 🙂 I sincerely hope they do just that – I can’t imagine a more fitting end for such a fiery woman.

13 MrsJoyner { 07.06.12 at 9:31 pm }

I couldn’t breathe when I read your post about Nancy..I loved her blog, her stories, the way she lived life w/such vivaciousness..Is there any way you can tell me or us how to find her on FB? I would love to leave condolences..I just can’t believe she is gone. She was amazing.

14 tigger62077 { 07.06.12 at 10:05 pm }

For those trying to reach Nancy on FB:

I don’t know her profile is locked down to just friends or not, though. Can always leave a message on her blog in case someone checks it.

15 Dora { 07.07.12 at 10:57 pm }

So sad about Nancy. Every now and then I would click over to Nancy’s blog from somewhere, and think that I really should read her regularly. Love the post you linked. Well said. My thoughts are with her children.

16 suzanne { 07.17.12 at 2:04 am }

I didn’t know Nancy, but here is her obituary. I believe that you can offer online condolences if you wish. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/Gazette/obituary.aspx?n=Nancy-Alice-Ann-Leisher&pid=158441807

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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